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Jon Avnet

IMDb

Date of Birth:
17 November 1949Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA

Birth Name:
Jonathan Michael Avnet

Short Biography:
Jon Avnet has directed, written, and produced more than 70 motion pictures (Black Swan, Fried Green Tomatoes, Risky Business), television movies (The Burning Bed, Uprising, The Starter Wife), and Broadway plays (Spamalot, History Boys, Pillowman), winning Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Peabodys, Golden Globes, the Humanitas, DGA, WGA, and AFI Awards.

For the last six years, Mr. Avnet directed 10 episodes of FX's Justified, starring Tim Olyphant and Walton Goggins, and created by Graham Yost from Elmore Leonard's story "Fire in the Hole." Justified won the Peabody Award and scored multiple Emmy nominations, winning for Margo Martindale and Jeremy Davies. Mr. Avnet also collaborated with creator Graham Yost on the critically acclaimed Boomtown, where they were Executive Producers of the show, which won Television Critics Association awards for Best Drama and Best New Show, as well as the Peabody Award. Mr. Avnet directed the pilot and 9 episodes of Boomtown, which starred Donnie Wahlberg, Neal McDonough, Lana Parilla and Mykelti Williamson.

Mr. Avnet was the executive producer of Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman (winner of the Oscar for Best Actress) and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Black Swan received five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, as well as multiple nominations and wins from the PGA, WGA, SAG, BAFTA, AFI, and the Golden Globes. It grossed 326 million dollars theatrical worldwide.

Mr. Avnet co-wrote, directed and produced Fried Green Tomatoes, which garnered multiple Academy Awards for writing and for Jessica Tandy, who co-starred with Kathy Bates, Mary Louise Parker, Mary Stuart Masterson and Cicely Tyson. Fried Green Tomatoes was one of the top grossing films of the year, won the Scripter Award, and was nominated for a WGA Award as well. It received Golden Globe nominations for Best Comedy, and for Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates (Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress), BAFTA nominations for Jessica and Kathy, and won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film.

Avnet also directed and produced Red Corner starring Richard Gere, Up Close and Personal written by Joan Didion and John Dunne starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer, and Righteous Kill starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Mr. Avnet's first directing outing (which he also co-wrote and produced) was the ABC TV movie Between Two Women, starring Colleen Dewhurst and Farrah Fawcett. Miss Dewhurst won her first Emmy for her performance, while the film received rave reviews and was the highest rated movie on ABC that year.

Avnet, during his partnership with Steve Tisch, produced for David Geffen the classic film Risky Business, which launched the career of Tom Cruise and that of the first time writer/director Paul Brickman. Tom Cruise received a Golden Globe nomination and Mr. Brickman, a Writers Guild nomination. The dance sequence featuring Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" with Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear has become iconic. He produced with Mr. Brickman, for David Geffen again, the cult classic Men Don't Leave starring Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Joan Cusack, and introducing Chris O'Donnell. Mr. Brickman directed and co-wrote with Barbara Benedek.

Recently, Mr. Avnet has been very active and innovative in the digital space. In conjunction with Rodrigo Garcia (Albert Nobbs, In Treatment, Big Love) and Jake Avnet, he launched the scripted digital channel WIGS in May 2012. Funded by YouTube for its first two seasons, and by FOX network for its third season, WIGS has produced nearly 35 hours of premium scripted content. It has won most of the major awards for Internet productions and has been nominated for WGA awards (twice) and other traditional media awards as well. It is available at youtube.com/wigs, watchwigs.com and Hulu.com.

In September of 2014, WIGS became a subsidiary of Indigenous Media, which has WPP (the world's largest advertising company) and ITV (the largest channel in Great Britain) as its primary investors and Garcia and Avnet as CO-CEO's, with Jacob Avnet as the Chief Operating Officer. Indigenous will continue producing digital content (as well as cable content) for all digital platforms and developing select new channels.

In television, Avnet produced (with Steve Tisch) The Burning Bed, starring Farrah Fawcett, which garnered eight Emmy nominations, multiple Golden Globe awards, WGA awards, a DGA nomination and won The Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials. It was the highest-rated television movie ever aired on NBC. This landmark event was instrumental in making "the battered woman defense" a viable plea for victims of domestic violence and bringing the issue out of the closet, giving it national attention.

He also directed and executive produced The Starter Wife, a six-hour limited series for the USA Network starring Debra Messing, Joe Mantegna, and Judy Davis (who won the Best Supporting Actress Emmy for her performance). Based on the novel by Gigi Levangie Grazer, it aired May 2007 as the highest-rated limited cable series that year and received ten Emmy nominations, as well as DGA and PGA nominations for Mr. Avnet. It became a series for the USA network in 2008.

In 2001, Avnet directed, co-wrote with Paul Brickman (his frequent collaborator) and produced the critically praised miniseries Uprising for NBC. It starred Leelee Sobieski, Hank Azaria, David Schwimmer, Jon Voight, Donald Sutherland and introduced Stephen Moyer to American audiences. Based on the actual events of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, this film dealt with Jewish Resistance during the holocaust. It caused an international debate about what constitutes resistance and why victims of the holocaust were castigated as passive participants. Mr. Avnet was nominated for a Directors Guild Award and the film was nominated for Golden Globes, Emmys (it won two) and won the ASC award for cinematographer Denis Lenoir. It was released theatrically by Warner Brothers in Europe and received more critical accolades in France and other countries.

In 2000, Mr. Avnet financed and produced Rodrigo Garcia's film debut Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her. Starring Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Cameron Diaz, and Calista Flockhart, the film was selected by the Cannes Film Festival for "Un Certain Regard." It also played at Sundance and received glowing reviews. It began Mr. Garcia's collaboration with Mr. Avnet, which continues to this day.

Avnet produced and co-financed with Aurelio DeLaurentiis Paramount's Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, starring Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. With Jordan Kerner, Avnet produced Less Than Zero (bringing Robert Downey and James Spader to prominence), When a Man Loves a Woman, Miami Rhapsody, The Mighty Ducks films and George of the Jungle, to name a few, as well as the ABC mini-series Mama Flora's Family, based on the Alex Haley novel. Avnet and Kerner also produced Heat Wave, the true story of the Watts riots, which won all the major Cable ACE awards that year, including Best Picture, Best Actor for James Earl Jones and Best Actress for frequent collaborator, Cicely Tyson.

On Broadway, his plays have received 35 nominations and 12 Tony awards. He produced with Bill Haber the Tony award winning "History Boys" and the Mike Nichols directed "Spamalot." He also produced "The Pillowman," "Inherit the Wind" starring Brian Dennehy and Christopher Plummer, "The Seafarer" by Connor McPherson, and the Mike Nichols-directed "Country Girl," starring Morgan Freeman and Frances McDormand. Mr. Avnet began his career working for his mentor, writer/director Wilford Leach at Ellen Stewart's experimental theater La Mama.

Mr. Avnet attended the University of Pennsylvania, received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and was awarded a fellowship in directing to the American Film Institute. Today, Mr. Avnet is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors at the American Film Institute, where he has been a guiding force for over 20 years (and Chairman for eight years). In June 2013, Mr. Avnet received an honorary Doctorate in Communications from the American Film Institute. In addition, he serves on the Board of the Directors Guild of America, The DGA Western Directors Council, and is a Trustee of the DGA Pension and Health Plan.

Mr. Avnet is a member of the Board of Overseers of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania and participates as a mentor in the Director's Lab at Sundance and its sister program Emergence in France. He also lectures on film and holocaust studies at numerous universities worldwide and has supported a diverse range of charitable organizations.

Mr. Avnet is the recipient of numerous awards, including the ACLU's Freedom of Speech award, The AFI's Franklin Shaffner Award, and the Janus Korshak award (for Uprising) given by the American Friends of the Ghetto Fighters House in honor of the famous Polish educator who gave his life so his orphans would never be abandoned.

Black Swan (2010)

# 07801 IMDb

Black Swan (2010)

By Darren Aronofsky

Drama, Thriller (1h 48min)

USA USA

Fine! Rated 8.0 after 626,170 votes on 16-Oct-18.

Won Oscar. Another 49 wins & 132 nominations

Nina (Portman) is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica (Hershey) who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy (Cassel) decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre (Ryder) for the opening production of their new (...)

Righteous Kill (2008)

# 05062 IMDb

Righteous Kill (2008)

TaglineMost people respect the badge. Everybody respects the gun.

By Jon Avnet

Crime, Drama, Mystery (1h 41min)

USA USA

Rated 6.0 after 79,176 votes on 07-Oct-18.

1 nomination

Two veteran New York City detectives work to identify the possible connection between a recent murder and a case they believe they solved years ago; is there a serial killer on the loose, and did they perhaps put the wrong person behind bars?

88 Minutes (2007)

# 02424 IMDb

88 Minutes (2007)

TaglineHe has 88 minutes to solve a murder. His own.

By Jon Avnet

Crime, Drama, Thriller (1h 35min)

Germany Germany, USA USA

Rated 5.9 after 70,489 votes on 20-Oct-18.

2 nominations

In Seattle, the successful forensic psychiatrist and college professor Jack Gramm is in evidence since he was responsible for the condemnation of the serial killer Jon Forster, influencing the jury to sentence him to the death row. Jon accuses Jack of manipulation, inducing one witness and sister of one of his victims to testify against him. On the eve of Jon's execution, Jack receives a phone (...)

Land of the Blind (2006)

# 01975 IMDb

Land of the Blind (2006)

By Robert Edwards

Drama (1h 50min)

UK UK, USA USA

Rated 6.6 after 3,397 votes on 22-Oct-18.

A political drama about terrorism, revolution, and the power of memory. In an unnamed place and time, an idealistic soldier named Joe strikes up an illicit friendship with a political prisoner named Thorne, who eventually recruits him into a bloody coup d'etat. But in the post-revolutionary world, what Thorne asks of Joe leads the two men into bitter conflict, spiraling downward into madness (...)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

# 00762 IMDb

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

TaglineJoin the Resistance

By Kerry Conran

Action, Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller (1h 46min)

USA USA, UK UK, Italy Italy

Rated 6.1 after 77,374 votes on 25-Sep-18.

3 wins & 11 nominations

In 1939, an intrepid reporter in New York City makes a connection between the story she's covering-- of famous scientists suddenly disappearing around the world, and a recent attack on the city by giant robots. Determined to find the solution to these happenings, she seeks the help of her ex-boyfriend, the captain of a mercenary legion of pilots. The two are investigating the case when the robots (...)

Uprising (2001)

# 04958 IMDb

Uprising (2001)

TaglineThey did the one thing the Nazis never expected. They fought back.

By Jon Avnet

Drama, War (2h 57min)

USA USA

Fine! Rated 7.3 after 4,291 votes on 09-Dec-18.

4 wins & 11 nominations

Using radically refashioned archival footage of the Warsaw ghetto, this interview with Jon Avnet the director of Uprising talks about Marek Edelman who is an evocative memoir of his role in the rebellion that held back the Nazis for almost a month in 1943. The film begins with the growing list of prohibitions and regulations leading to the virtual imprisonment of about half-a-million Polish Jews (...)

Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000)

# 02841 IMDb

Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000)

TaglineA man only sees what a woman wants him to know.

By Rodrigo GarcĂ­a

Drama, Romance (1h 49min)

USA USA

Rated 6.5 after 6,175 votes on 05-Oct-18.

1 win & 1 nomination

An anthology of five loosely connected stories dealing with a variety of very different women in dealing with their own life problems. The first story "This is Dr. Keener" features Glenn Close as a doctor looking after her invalid mother who comes to realize that her own life is passing her by. The second story "Fantasies About Rebecca" features Holly Hunter as a wealthy bank manager who doesn't (...)

Red Corner (1997)

# 13688 IMDb

Red Corner (1997)

TaglineLeniency for those who confess...

By Jon Avnet

Crime, Drama, Thriller (2h 02min)

USA USA

Rated 6.3 after 14,593 votes on 03-Oct-18.

4 wins

Jack Moore is an American attorney having talks in Bejing about founding the first satellite TV joint venture. Suddenly he is arrested, accused of murder and has to prove it was a frame-up together with his court-appointed attorney Shen Yuelin.

Up Close & Personal (1996)

# 14344 IMDb PG-13 

Up Close & Personal (1996)

TaglineEvery Day we Have, is One More Than We Deserve.

By Jon Avnet

Drama, Romance (2h 04min)

USA USA

Rated 6.1 after 12,468 votes on 03-Nov-18.

Nominated for Oscar. Another 5 nominations

This is a telling of the Jessica Savitch story, the newswoman who, in the 1970's, became the "First Woman Anchor". Sally/Tally is taken under the wing of Warren in a Miami newsroom and becomes a news star on TV. Despite her love for Warren, she takes the big chance and moves on to Philadelphia, where he follows to rescue her faltering career at the cost of his own - as she rises he falls.

Miami Rhapsody (1995)

# 08643 IMDb

Miami Rhapsody (1995)

By David Frankel

Comedy (1h 45min)

USA USA

Rated 5.4 after 2,896 votes on 06-Oct-18.

1 nomination

Gwyn Marcus has always wanted a marriage like her parents. She has just accepted the proposal of her boyfriend Matt, but she has misgivings about their future together. Her fear of commitment grows as she learns of the various affairs that her family is having. With her sister getting married and her brother already married, her mother is growing concerned about Gwyn's being the last single (...)

The War (1994)

# 14963 IMDb PG-13 

The War (1994)

TaglineWhat's worth fighting for?

By Jon Avnet

Drama (2h 06min)

USA USA

Rated 6.7 after 11,074 votes on 01-Nov-18.

1 win & 3 nominations

Vietnam War vet Stephen Simmons must deal with a war of a different sort between his son and their friends, and a rival group of children. He also must deal with his own personal and employment problems that have resulted from his Vietnam experiences.

When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)

# 04248 IMDb

When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)

TaglineThrough the good times. Through the bad times. When a Man Loves a Woman it's for all times.

By Luis Mandoki

Drama, Romance (2h 06min)

USA USA

Rated 6.6 after 18,525 votes on 10-Oct-18.

3 nominations

An airline pilot and his wife are forced to face the consequences of her alcoholism when her addictions threaten her life and their daughter's safety. While the woman enters detox, her husband must face the truth of his enabling behavior.

The Three Musketeers (1993)

# 00567 IMDb

The Three Musketeers (1993)

TaglineThey're Scoundrels, Playboys, Outlaws . . . The Greatest Heroes Who Ever Lived.

By Stephen Herek

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Romance (1h 45min)

Austria Austria, UK UK, USA USA

Rated 6.4 after 45,569 votes on 05-Oct-18.

2 wins & 3 nominations

The three best of the disbanded Musketeers - Athos, Porthos, and Aramis - join a young hotheaded would-be-Musketeer, D'Artagnan, to stop the Cardinal Richelieu's evil plot: to form an alliance with enemy England by way of the mysterious Milady. Rochefort, the Cardinal's right-hand man, announces the official disbanding of the King's Musketeers. Three, however, refuse to throw down their swords - (...)

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

# 05924 IMDb

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

TaglineHe's never coached. They've never won. Together they'll learn everything about winning!

By Stephen Herek

Action, Comedy, Drama, Family, Sport (1h 40min)

USA USA

Rated 6.5 after 50,986 votes on 05-Oct-18.

2 nominations

Gordon Bombay, a hotshot lawyer, is haunted by memories of his childhood, when, as the star player in his champion hockey team, he lost the winning goal in a shootout, thereby losing the game, and the approval of his coach. After being charged for drunk driving, the court orders him to coach a peewee hockey team, the worst in the league, Gordon is at first very reluctant. However, he eventually (...)

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

# 04030 IMDb

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

TaglineThe secret of life? The secret's in the sauce.

By Jon Avnet

Drama, Comedy (2h 10min)

USA USA

Fine! Rated 7.7 after 59,291 votes on 10-Oct-18.

Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 6 nominations

Evelyn Couch is having trouble in her marriage, and no one seems to take her seriously. While in a nursing home visiting relatives, she meets Ninny Threadgoode, an outgoing old woman, who tells her the story of Idgie Threadgoode, a young woman in 1920's Alabama. Through Idgie's inspiring life, Evelyn learns to be more assertive and builds a lasting friendship of her own with Ninny.

Less Than Zero (1987)

# 09688 IMDb

Less Than Zero (1987)

TaglineIn Beverly Hills, you can have anything your heart desires. You just can't have it the way it used to be.

By Marek Kanievska

Crime, Drama, Romance (1h 38min)

USA USA

Rated 6.4 after 16,225 votes on 29-Jul-18.

Clay, an eighteen-year-old freshman, comes back from his first term at a college in New Hampshire to spend his Christmas vacation with his broken-up wealthy family in Los Angeles. His former girlfriend, Blair, is now involved with his ex-best-friend, Julian. She warns Clay that Julian needs help: he is using a lot of cocaine and has huge debts. What follows is a look at the youth culture of (...)

The Burning Bed (1984)

# 09613 IMDb

The Burning Bed (1984)

TaglineHe did not know how to stop it... She did.

By Robert Greenwald

Drama (1h 40min)

USA USA

Fine! Rated 7.3 after 1,940 votes on 07-Dec-17.

3 wins & 13 nominations

Abused battered wife has had enough of husband beating up on her. Everywhere she turns for help, there's not much anyone will do. After he rapes one night, she sets the bed on fire with him in it while asleep.

Risky Business (1983)

# 05675 IMDb

Risky Business (1983)

TaglineJoel had all the normal teenage fantasies...cars, girls, money. Then his parents left for a week, and all his fantasies came true. [UK Theatrical]

By Paul Brickman

Comedy (1h 38min)

USA USA

Rated 6.8 after 71,564 votes on 26-Nov-18.

3 nominations

Left alone in the wealthy northern Chicago suburbs with the family house and Porsche at his disposal, Joel, through his scheming friends, finds himself entertaining to-die-for lady-of-the-night Lana. After meeting Joel's enthusiastic friends, Lana spots a business opportunity, and suggests bringing in some of her equally stunning colleagues. Joel is aghast at such an idea, at least until the (...)

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